It was an immensely political Budget, but perhaps the chancellor should have thought more carefully before hitting the West Country where it hurts – its cider.
There were very few surprises for most accountancy commentators in this years’ Budget report, but even AccountingWEB’s tax expert Rebecca Benneyworth was stumped by the government’s decision to increase duty on cider by 10%.
The noted tax lecturer (and West Country resident) was heard to exclaim: “Oh no, not my cider!”, during the announcement – and she’s not the only one unhappy with the change.
The co-founder of cider brand Brothers and West Country favourites the Wurzels were also dismayed by the decision.
As reported on our sister site BusinessZone.co.uk, Matthew Showering, managing director of Brothers, a company which hit the big time after being sold at the Glastonbury Festival, said: "Cider is much more expensive to produce than other types of drinks and it helps support the economy in many rural areas," he said. "We are a smallish company that pays a very large amount of tax. We employ 85 people and support many local suppliers in Somerset. The extra increase in tax levied on cider over and above other categories will make it less competitive and I am sure the big brewers (almost all from overseas) will be glad of that".
“The cider industry has been trying its hardest to help the economy recover in the last few years and, as one of the few industries that have achieved growth through the recent recession, is a true British success story. The huge duty increases announced today will undo much of this good work and the impact of such a significant price increase to the consumer will probably also be counterproductive in raising revenue for HMRC as well," he added.
The Wurzels band members Tom Banner and Pete Budd said they were “very upset” that their tipple of choice, scrumpy cider would be affected.
Commenting on the chancellor, they added: "We'll tell him something, he won't be the Darling bud of our May.
"We would like offer our 50 years of experience of cider drinking and of playing within a cider community to the government in an advisory capacity - and the public can be assured that we would obviously register our interests in cider before any lobbying commenced."
Here at AccountingWEB we try to remain politically impartial as far as possible, but being a Bristol based organisation, we're not ashamed to admit that we'll always vote for cider when the choice is there!